Home : Hardware Terms : Video Card Definition

Video Card

Most of the processing done on a computer is done via the computer's central processing unit, or CPU. So in order to give the CPU a break and help it run more efficiently, a video card can be used to process the graphics portion of the processing load. Because most of today's programs are graphically oriented, the video card can help almost any program run more efficiently. However, the difference in performance is especially noticeable in image editing applications and 3D games.

Video cards, also called graphics accelerators, can speed up both 2D and 3D graphics rendering. Programs such as photo editors and Web browsers may benefit from 2D acceleration, while CAD design programs and video games will most likely benefit from the card's 3D acceleration. Some programs rely so heavily on the video card, that they will not run if a supported video card is not installed.

Most video cards support the OpenGL and DirectX libraries. These libraries include commands for manipulating graphics that programmers can include in their code. Some of these commands may include moving or rotating an object, morphing polygons, or casting light and creating shadows. By using standard OpenGL or DirectX functions, it makes it easier for developers to create graphically-oriented programs. Of course, it also makes it necessary for the computer to include a supported video card in order for the program to run.

Video cards are typically installed in either the PCI or AGP slots in the back of a computer. Most computers come with a video card installed in one of these slots, which means it can be upgraded at a later time.

Cite this definition:


TechTerms - The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

This page contains a technical definiton of Video Card. It explains in computing terminology what Video Card means and is one of many hardware terms in the TechTerms dictionary.

All definitions on the TechTerms website are written to be technically accurate but also easy to understand. If you find this Video Card definition to be helpful, you can reference it using the citation links above. If you think a term should be updated or added to the TechTerms dictionary, please email TechTerms!